31. Letter From Secretary of State Shultz to Attorney General Meese1

Dear Ed:

As you know, our Departments have been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control over the last two months to ensure the timely and effective implementation of the President’s decision that all persons coming to the United States for permanent resettlement should be tested for AIDS HIV infection. I am today sending to Secretary Bowen the Department of State’s comments on the proposed HHS rule designating HIV as a contagious disease that was published in the Federal Register on June 8, 1987.2 A copy of our comments and my letter to Secretary Bowen are enclosed.3

In reviewing our comments, you will see that we have concluded that proper implementation of the proposed HHS rule will require close coordination between HHS, Justice, and State and—importantly—changes in certain immigration laws and regulations. I would particularly like to call your attention to and ask your support for four initiatives that we believe must be undertaken to ensure that the HIV testing program can be implemented in a manner consistent with our domestic [Page 82] and foreign policy interests, especially as they relate to immigrant visa applicants with close ties to the United States and to that very vulnerable population for which I know you share my concern—refugees.

Specifically, we believe that the Administration must seek legislative authority to waive the HIV exclusion for immigrants in appropriate circumstances, such as when a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen is involved. We also believe that special arrangements with respect to HIV testing of refugees must be made. Under our proposal, refugees will in virtually all instances be tested for HIV before they are brought to the United States. In two situations, however, it may be necessary to defer testing until the refugee has arrived in the United States: these would be emergency, life-threatening situations where the refugee must be moved to the United States before the test can be done, and situations in which testing facilities are unavailable and it is determined to be in the national interest that HIV testing be deferred until the port of entry. Finally, we consider it of utmost importance that your authority to waive a Section 212(a) (6) exclusion based on HIV infection for a refugee be retained and used in a responsible yet flexible way consistent with Section 207(c) (3)4 of the INA and the national interest.

We have made suggestions concerning each of these matters in our comments on the HHS proposed rule. Various suggestions concerning your authority and INS procedures are made throughout the body of our comments, and specific changes in the INS regulations are suggested at Attachments C and D of our comments. I hope that you will support these suggestions, and look forward to continued close cooperation between our Departments in further refining and implementing them.

Sincerely yours,

George P. Shultz
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Papers of George P. Shultz, AIDS testing. No classification marking. Drafted by Rouse, Krumm, and Brown on July 29; cleared by Funseth, Passage, Coffey, Goff, Mochary, Henderson, Colson, and Newlin. Copies were sent to Bowen, Nelson, and McCance.
  2. See Document 27.
  3. The August 3 letter and an updated paper, “Comments Regarding Immigrant Visa Applications,” are attached but not printed.
  4. Section 207 of the INA sets rules for the annual admission of refugees.